Course Instructors FAQ

I am a Unit 1 Course Instructor, what will happen to my course if we go on strike or are locked out?

First, we are still in mediation with the Ministry of Labour. We intend to continue bargaining right up to the strike deadline, February 24th. Until the executive committee of the Local authorizes a strike or the Employer institutes a lockout, you should proceed as normal. Follow all bargaining news on the Local’s website: In the event that a strike/lockout is declared, we expect that your course will be waiting for you when the strike or lockout ends. We have been on strike in February/March before and the UofT did not move to cancel classes in either strike/lockout.

What should I tell my undergraduate students about the strike?

One thing you should tell them is that, if you are on strike or locked out, you cannot do any bargaining unit work. So, you cannot teach, mark, grade, etc. If we reach the point of a labour disruption, it will unfortunately have some kind of an impact on your undergraduate students. However, you can offer that you will do your utmost to mitigate any academic consequences. Once a strike or lockout ends, you will need to adapt what remains of the course to ensure that your academic objectives are met.

Can I talk to my undergrads about the strike during class time?

Although the Union is of the opinion that a Course Instructor may use his/her academic freedom (See Article 10 of the Collective Agreement) to talk about the potential strike/lockout and the reasons for it during class time, we generally recommend against doing too much of this. It is perfectly appropriate to use class time to explain to students what to expect in terms of assignments, projects, etc. in the event of a strike. This discussion may lead into a wider discussion of the issues underlying the labour disruption. However, you want to avoid the appearance of misusing your power over students by using too much class time on this issue. It is more advisable for Course Instructors to use the time just before class (i.e., between the hour and ten past) or just after dismissal for more detailed political discussions with students. In any of these discussions, it should be made clear that a student has the right to disagree with his/her instructor and suffer no academic or other penalty. If you encounter any problems arising from any of these issues, contact the Union immediately!

There is more information on speaking to classes here.

What about assignments due during the strike or lockout?

Prior to the commencement of any strike action, you should exercise your right as a Course Instructor to inform your students that you are extending the due dates of all assignments in your class until the strike/lockout ends. You have the authority to do this under Part 2, Section III (h) of the Grading Practices Policy. The technical academic term for a strike or lockout is “disruption of the academic program.” If you have any other questions, please contact the Union immediately!

Should I ask my TAs to submit all assignments (graded or ungraded) in their possession?

Requests such as this by the administration should be interpreted as an attempt by the administration to interfere with union business and our ability to prepare for labour action. Legally you do have to comply with these requests. However, one thing that you are unable to do, as the direct supervisor of TAs, is to ask your TAs to overwork. Overwork is protected by our collective agreement (which as Course Instructors we all need to follow). What is “overwork”? Good question. Our CA is not very good at defining this. But there are some common-sense considerations to make:

  1. We don’t get overtime pay, so you cannot ask TAs to work more than 44 hours in a work week: “For most employees, whether they work full-time, part-time, are students, temporary help agency assignment employees, or casual workers, overtime begins after they have worked 44 hours in a work week. After that time, they must receive overtime pay” (Ontario Ministry of Labour).
  2. Keep in mind that Saturday, Sunday and Monday (family day) are University holidays.
  3. All members in our bargaining unit are students, so in our opinion it is also unreasonable to expect them to put in a regular 8 hour UofT working day marking seeing as they will have other responsibilities as a student, and at the end of the day, TAing is only ever a part-time job.